Provided by Virginia Department of Health
Mosquitoes are more than bothersome pests during our outdoor summer activities. They can carry diseases like West Nile Virus and Zika. The Prince William Health District offers information and suggestions on how to protect yourself and your family from the bite of these pests, and the diseases they carry.
Viruses that can be spread through the bite of infected mosquitos can affect anyone, but young children and elderly adults appear to be more susceptible to becoming sick. Fortunately, only a few types of mosquitoes are able to spread illnesses, and only a small number of mosquitos actually carry these viruses. Most people bitten by an infected mosquito do not get sick. People who do get sick usually suffer a mild, flu-like illness. Children and adults older than age 50 are at greatest risk of serious illnesses that affect the nervous system, such as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord). Very few people who contract a virus from a mosquito suffer from these more severe symptoms.
Zika virus is a mosquito-borne illness that has a different set of health concerns. It is a virus that may seriously affect the health of a pregnant woman’s unborn child. To date, all Virginia cases have been associated with travel to a Zika-affected area. However, local transmission of Zika virus within a community by mosquitoes has previously been reported in certain areas of Texas and Florida. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued travel notices for people traveling to destinations with Zika-affected areas.
Residents play a big role in disease prevention by paying special attention to eliminating mosquito breeding habitats around homes, and by protecting themselves from mosquito bites while outside.
“We have to remain vigilant in reducing mosquito breeding areas and avoiding mosquito bites to prevent West Nile Disease and potentially, local transmission of Zika virus in our communities,” said Alison Ansher, MD, Director of the Prince William Health District. “Since many mosquitos breed in standing water within a few hundred feet of a residence, eliminating standing water in containers around the home is one of the most effective ways to prevent mosquito breeding and to reduce the risk from bites.”
The Prince William Health District recommends the following to reduce your exposure to mosquitoes and the diseases they may carry:
- Tip, Toss and Cover:
- Tip containers such as garbage cans, pool covers and flower pots that might collect water where mosquitoes could breed,
- Toss outside items that aren’t being used and might collect water; and
- Cover your skin with an EPA-registered insect repellent and long, light-colored clothing, shoes and socks.
- CDC recommends that pregnant women not travel to any area where there is a risk of Zika virus infection; up-to-date travel advisory information can be found on the CDC website (cdc.gov).
For more information on mosquito-borne diseases, visit ZikaVa.org and the Virginia Department of Health website at vdh.virginia.gov. For more health information, follow the Prince William Health District on Twitter @PrinceWilliamHD or on Facebook at facebook.com/PrinceWilliamHealthDistrict.
For questions about mosquito control, contact Prince William County Mosquito and Forest Pest Management at 703-792-6279 or email [email protected].